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Lot # 1047 (of 1560)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1979 Thurman Munson Signed Pilot's License - Expired Just Two Days Before His Fatal Crash

Starting Bid - $2,000, Sold For - $6,463

The enormous significance of this pilot's license, issued to, and signed by, Thurman Munson in 1978, is predicated in part on its date of expiration: 7/31/79, which was just two days before Munson's fatal plane crash. The "Temporary Airman Certificate," issued by the Department of Transportation - Federal Aviation Administration, certifies that "Thurman Lee Munson... has been found to be properly qualified and is hereby authorized in accordance with the conditions of issuance on the reverse of this certificate to exercise the privileges of Private Pilot" and is authorized to operate the following equipment: "Airplane single and multi engine land instrument - Airplane." The certificate, which was valid from 12/2/78 through 7/31/79, has been signed "Thurman L Munson" in blue ink (grading "10") vertically along the left border. Munson passed away tragically on August 2, 1979 when the plane he was flying crashed just short of the runway in Canton, Ohio. An experienced pilot, Munson often flew home to Canton to be with his family on off days, and it so it was on this occasion. His tragic death remains one of the darkest days in Yankees history and, not surprisingly, signaled the downfall of the team's 1970s dynasty. This certificate originates directly from Thurman Munson's widow, who parted with it, along with a number of Munson's other personal belongings, at public auction in 2004, where it was purchased by our consignor. Since that time it has garnered him a great deal of attention by the media. Both he and the certificate were featured in an ESPN.com article documenting some of the more unusual artifacts circulating in the hobby today and also on the ESPN television series Outside the Lines, hosted by Bob Lee. The direct link between this document and Munson's ultimate demise makes it one of the most profoundly significant Munson signed items that could possibly exist and one with an importance that transcends the collecting world. Thurman Munson was one of the finest all-around catchers of his era and another in a long line of legendary Yankees players. A former Rookie of the Year, six time All-Star selection and League MVP, Munson helped lead the Yankees to three pennants and two World Championships during his brief career. In addition to his remarkable offensive achievements (including three consecutive seasons of batting over .300 with 100 or more RBI) Munson was also awarded three Gold Glove Awards in recognition of his defensive skills. In 1976 he received possibly his highest honor when he was named the team's first captain since Lou Gehrig. Like Gehrig, Munson led by example and was modest by nature, happy to deflect the spotlight away from himself and onto his teammates. Today, Munson's number "15" has been retired along with those of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle, and his plaque hangs proudly alongside other Yankee immortals in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. In deference to his memory, Munson's locker remains empty in the Yankee clubhouse; a silent tribute to one of the greatest players in team history. The certificate (5.5 x 4 inches) displays both a horizontal and vertical fold, as well as a few light creases. In Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $6,463


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